On Thursday, January 28th, the President and Vice President travel to Tampa, FL for a town hall meeting to make a major economic announcement - the awarding of $8 billion in Recovery Act grants to begin to build a high speed rail infrastructure across the country. ∙ A half dozen Cabinet Members and senior Administration officials will fan out to communities across the country to highlight specific awards on Thursday.

∙ The awards, which go to state governments, are a down-payment to help launch projects developing new high speed rail corridors or upgrading existing corridors to prepare for future high-speed and intercity rail development.

∙ Thirteen major corridors will receive awards on Thursday to help develop new high speed rail infrastructure or begin the transition to high speed rail. ∙ In addition, smaller awards will also be made for improvements to portions of existing rail lines. ∙ Overall, thirty-one states will benefit from the awards which will lay the groundwork for a nationwide high speed rail system.

∙ The $8 billion in Recovery Act awards is part of an overall $13 billion high speed rail investment the President announced last year as part of his of his strategic plan for high speed rail. The other $5 billion would be funded through the annual budget process.

∙ The awards also part of an overall $100 billion investment in laying a new foundation for economic growth through innovation, science and technology the Administration is making through the Recovery Act. (along with things like advanced batteries, smart energy grid, health IT and broadband) ∙ The $8 billion in awards are expected to create or save tens of thousands of jobs over time in areas like track-laying, manufacturing, planning and engineering, and rail maintenance and operations.